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Lisa

Eternal Lies SPOILERS GMs ONLY

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Aviatrix

I'm trying to frame in my own head, and in the mind of the player-characters, the significance and nature (if not the exact detail) of the 1924 ritual in 'introducing' the Liar / Thing with a Thousand Mouths, into the world. My initial understanding is that this is what the ritual did - somehow birth/re-birth the Liar / Thing with a Thousand Mouths into the world. The 1924 investigators failed to prevent that, and it 'falls' to the 1937 PCs to deal with the aftermath.

 

BUT, if Echavarria already was dealing Nectar pre-ritual, then that suggests the presence of a Major Mouth - suggesting that the Thing with a Thousand Mouths was already in some way 'present' on Earth and being worshipped prior to the 1924 ritual. In fact checking the book again it states on p93 that the Nectar flowed from the Mouth present in Echavaria's mansion (mentioned elsewhere as being in Highland Park, and distinct from the Pasadena Mouth now used by Tramell).

 

 

 

EL is not always super-consistent in between chapters about some of the setting details, such as the addictivity of Nectar :-)

 

But in this case, it's called out in IIRC the Tibet chapter--on p. 347 it's explicitly said that the Liar came to Earth millennia ago, and that Echevaría's ritual merely "woke" the Liar.

 

My assumption is that there was a major mouth, either at his home or the farm, but it was consumed/transformed/destroyed during the interrupted ritual.

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CsabTheHun

It arrives! It arrives!

 

The long awaited alternative ending to the EL campaign is here - that's according to the newest See Page XX.

 

Eternal Lies Never Dies

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Hypnotoad

This alternative ending is so disappointing.

 

I hoped it would have been a "correction", not a drastic alternative...which I find:

- Forcedly connected with the rest of the campaign.

- Anticlimatic.

- With too many rituals and magic (happened in the past or to do now). But maybe it's me: I really don't like magic in a Cthulhu Game, I think investigators and NPC should do one or two rituals from one or two books/sources in a whole campaign...not find books with spells and cast here and there like magicians. 

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Light_Artisan
I haven't read it in deep, but I like how it works. Yes, this new end changes the way the investigation works (and needs to introduce a bunch of clues along the locales to foreshadow it) and can be quite disappointing because the PCs just find the final scene set for them, they don't take part in it, and almost everything builds behind the courtain, so to speak.

 

 

BUT

 

 

 

I really like the idea of Janet W-R investigating by herself, rebuilding Walter's library and falling into the Mythos madness and trying to find her father "beyond the veils". I'll pick some ideas and scenes and introduce this new problem in the campaing.

 

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Lisa

It's not my preferred ending, but I think it's good that it exists.

 

I like the original ending, and I'm delighted that this is the one PoC went with.

 

BUT...

 

It's bleak. It's beautiful. And some groups will hate it. So, yes, there needs to be a pulpier alternative.

It does feel a little tacked on, yes -- but, the original ending also doesn't really have enough support in the campaign as written. What I'd been hoping for, I admit, was something making the original ending work better, but at this point, there's enough material here and in the (Not So) Secret Google+ Group that I can figure out how to foreshadow that better. So, what I really want is a compilation of what we've all done, a sort of Companion to Eternal Lies, and if I get sufficiently motivated, I may try to do that myself.

 

Aviatrix, of course, is likely to come up with a completely different ending altogether, which I'm looking forward to. It'll probably be too tightly geared to her group to be easily portable, but it's going to spark ideas.

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Hypnotoad

The problem is that I was looking for a different ending with the same premises...premises that are radically changed in this new one.

For example I really don't like the new "what happened at the farm" thing.

 

The original ending isn't so "focused" on his take on Job as a focus...but with the suggestion on this topic you'll can get through the matter.

 

A compilation of endings, to take as inspiration, is very a good idea.

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Aviatrix

Aviatrix, of course, is likely to come up with a completely different ending altogether, which I'm looking forward to. It'll probably be too tightly geared to her group to be easily portable, but it's going to spark ideas.

 

Yeah, I'd say the portability will be nil, unlike say the props I made for Masks, which can be ported out with some modification. (Given the nature of your PC, Lisa, you'll not be surprised that I'm weaving that heavily into the fabric.)

 

I like the ending of EL...somewhat. There's a lot of potential there, but also a lot of problems:

 

--The "Surprise" and "Ha-HA!" nature of the ending is a bit...off-putting. Maybe I've played too many * World games, but I really don't like holding back secrets of that magnitude from the Players. "Always say what honesty demands," after all. EL basically forces you to lie...well, maybe lie is strong; deliberately make knowledge inaccessible. 

 

--The stakes maybe get set *too* high. I mean, is the world really going to end? Does anyone see that as a possible end to the campaign? I'm sure that's out there, and more power to you, but my guess is that the vast majority of campaigns will end with Edgar getting hyperzapped across the galaxy.

 

ETA: that said, I'm considering setting the stakes even higher, so take it with a grain of sand.

 

--It sort of forces you into an alternate world situation--the global effects of the Eye of Azathoth are hard to ignore, and what would happen next? Does World War II go down the same way? If you want to pick up your PCs in some future campaign, is the timeline mostly that of our Earth or what? I mean, I don't want to take the cop-out in Masks (failing to close the gate results, basically, in the world of Call of Cthulhu...) but by the same token part of the charm of historical rpging is playing in history.

 

--And maybe I prefer my macguffins to not be people. Sorry, Edgar :)

 

...none of those are particularly serious, and I pretty much enjoyed the ending of EL although my headcanon assumes that the events basically go down as "freaky weather during early 1938" with nothing more serious happening, since my headcanon for my PC involves her flying for several nations during WWII :)

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Lisa

Actually, I like the high stakes. Well, okay, for a single adventure in a collection, something 5-50 pages, say, I do prefer that stakes remain low enough that I won't find myself unable to run more scenarios in the same version of the world.

 

But for a campaign that I'm going to be running for a year? A campaign where the PCs are likely to be somewhat shattered at the end, even if they survive? Yes, high stakes are fine.

 

I figure maybe there's a bobble in the EL gameworld, with WWII happening maybe a few years later, if one wants to continue. And, yes, I'd find it unusual if the PCs actually dropped the ball on saving the world -- but I like that it's on the table.

 

I don't mind the mcguffin being Edgar Job or any other NPC. I do mind the text going to huge lengths to remove all foreshadowing from play so that if the Keeper and players don't push against it, his importance comes out of nowhere. I do mind the "AHA! We have totally fooled you -- silly you! You should have realized we removed all the clues from the table!" But, I do like the "this is where it leads" and I do like a set up that the PCs and players won't catch for this -- as long as there's a sense of fairness.

 

I'm not sure how doable that is, but there's enough material in threads on this site that I can run things better if I run this again. It boils down to tweaking the clues pointing to the mountain and to the reveal, and deciding that yes, it really is okay if Edgar isn't bad at math.

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Light_Artisan

I'm going to introduce the Edgard's mathematical not-genius-but-hell-he-is-good in letters sent to Janet W-R. And as long as the tugs sent to watch him were siamese, I think Savitree would had been suspicious about what happened in the farm in 1925. Savitree's suspicions may be the reason why Echevarria sent her back to Siam before the ritual, and same about Ayers.

 

I'll put the clues in the Locale that they're going to spend less time: Home. They can follow that lead if they want, only to discover that something happened to Job, and that Echevarria's true intentions weren't known by the cult.

 

Maybe Ayers knows more? Will the PCs sacrifice the man to obtain more answers?

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Aviatrix

I don't mind the mcguffin being Edgar Job or any other NPC. I do mind the text going to huge lengths to remove all foreshadowing from play so that if the Keeper and players don't push against it, his importance comes out of nowhere. I do mind the "AHA! We have totally fooled you -- silly you! You should have realized we removed all the clues from the table!" But, I do like the "this is where it leads" and I do like a set up that the PCs and players won't catch for this -- as long as there's a sense of fairness.

 

I'm not sure how doable that is, but there's enough material in threads on this site that I can run things better if I run this again. It boils down to tweaking the clues pointing to the mountain and to the reveal, and deciding that yes, it really is okay if Edgar isn't bad at math.

 

That pretty much goes to the heart of it with me as well, Lisa--there's something very contra the entire concept of an investigative game in the purposeful hiding of information. 

 

The way to splice it, I think, is to have it so that each revelation gives you more data, so that in the end, the answer is obvious and there was no way to get the data until Kailash. I think that's what EL strives for, but...maybe doesn't quite get there.

 

The way I've handled Edgar (besides making him a physicist, which works a little better & we have a physicist PC in the group) is to play it both ways--prior to getting into the cult he was a solid if not spectacular physics student. (I had the guy at UCLA describe him as "the kind of guy you need to keep a lab running well--designs the experiments, understands what you want.") After his induction into the cult, Edgar started writing really out there stuff that his professors thought of as incomprehensible gibberish.

 

Except, the thing is--it isn't, really. Edgar's been turned on to the real universe, and tries to explain that in his work. But 1930s physics simply hasn't caught up to him. So that way he can be both brilliant and hopeless at the same time :)

 

Also I made him assistant faculty at UCLA while he was at grad school, which would make a lot of sense if he was a doctoral student, and explain how he knew Ayers a bit better.

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Lisa
On 03/04/2015 at 20:01, Aviatrix said:

The way to splice it, I think, is to have it so that each revelation gives you more data, so that in the end, the answer is obvious and there was no way to get the data until Kailash. I think that's what EL strives for, but...maybe doesn't quite get there.

 

Yes -- that's what I want. I want the situation of 1st season Veronica Mars, which plays fairly, but there's no way in heck I'd ever have figured it out.

 

I do like your take on Job, and might well use it if I rerun this.

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ReverendBayes

I am running a game right now, and like several here I wasn't really satisfied with the way the twist is presented at the climax of EL. I love a good twist, I just want it to be more fair to the players. So in customizing the campaign I've tried to follow a basic principle, which I'll call Occam's Rule of Twist Endings*:

 

Provide enough clues to infer the twist, but each clue should also have a simpler, more obvious explanation.

 

*I'm sure there's already a better name for this! But this is mine.

 

Fortunately, the authors of Eternal Lies have crafted such a terrific campaign that this doesn't require too much tweaking. In my game (still in its infancy), here is the basic spine that is being rolled out to the players.

 

THE SPINE

Ramon Echavarria began a ritual that was left unfinished. The remaining worshippers of the Liar, and eventually the players, all believe Echavarria's ritual was designed to bring The Liar fully into our world, so that he may rule over it--with the summoner as its Lord Regent. They all know or suspect that Echavarria was lying to them, and they are convinced it's because he wanted all the power for himself. Of course (being self-respecting cultists) they now each want to summon The Liar themselves, both to realize whatever heavenly promises he has made to them, and also so that THEY can be Lord Regent.

 

Simple, right? Complicating matters, Echavarria had all the tomes necessary for the summoning with him on the night of the ritual, and all of that knowledge perished in the flames. This explains why they haven't yet finished what he started, as they've needed to conduct their own studies to piece together the information. But the cult leaders generally agree on what needs to be done to summon a Mythos Deity:

 

  1. Determine the True Name of the Deity
  2. Find the ritual to summon that Deity
  3. Establish a focus to draw the Deity's attention
  4. Conduct the ritual, which includes a sacrifice sufficient to please that Deity

 

Most of the cult leaders have pieced together that the focus was Job, based on Echavarria's interest in him. Most of them also suspect that THEY were to be the sacrifice. So it is left to each of them to figure out who exactly they are worshipping, to find the appropriate ritual, and complete it.

 

Much of this should become apparent to the players early in the game, after reading Trammel's Testaments. So at the end of Act I, the overarching goal of the campaign will seem clear: find out who the Deity is, and find the ritual for exiling it, before the cultists can complete their own individual quests to complete the summoning ritual Echavarria started.

 

The race is on!

 

I think this adds a procedural tension to the campaign that still doesn't require much divergence from the writing. It is still been morally important to disrupt each of the cults, but now the stakes are raised. If any of the cult activities continue unabated, then not only is the Major Mouth left to continue adding Nectar to the world, but also that cult may be the one to complete the summoning. As the campaign builds toward the climax, any antagonist the Investigators have left hanging will be racing against them--and maybe each other--to reach the Deity first.

 

CORE CLUES

To bolt this onto the base campaign, I have borrowed heavily from Justin Alexander's excellent revisions and others’ comments to those revisions, adding a few of my own. What I have added here is some guidance as to how these clues fit both narratives. For example:

CORE CLUE: Ramon Echavarria had multiple rituals. Several books will be missing from Trammel's library that he acquired from Echavarria’s estate sale, there are signs of an inner and outer ritual at the farmhouse, etc.

 

 

OCCAM'S ASSUMPTION: The cultists (and players) will reasonably assume this is because one ritual was to establish the focus, the other was to summon The Liar.

THE TERRIBLE TRUTH: One ritual was to summon The Liar, the other was to summon the Gaze of Azathoth.

 

CORE CLUE: Great power requires a great sacrifice. This is a major theme of EL as written and there are clues to this everywhere, but Donovan’s sacrifice is the most obvious.

 

 

OCCAM'S ASSUMPTION: At least some of the cultist leaders will assume they themselves were to be Echavarria's sacrifice--after all, what greater sacrifice than the lives of your most devoted followers? They will testify to this belief in their correspondence and in conversations with the players.

THE TERRIBLE TRUTH: Echavarria intended to sacrifice Y'golonac to please Azathoth and ascend to godlike status.

 

 
CORE CLUE: The summoning of a Deity's attention can lead to apocalypse. There are two big clues that reinforce this core clue:

Los Angeles: Trammel will have figured it out, because the texts he is most interested in (concerning Nyarlathotep) have apocalyptic visions everywhere. They can piece this together from his writing and from the texts he's interested in. And he's fine with it, as long as he comes out on top.

 

Yucatan: The world ruled by Golxumal is desolate and blasted. (I am also using the variant suggested in this thread where Azathoth's gaze is currently on that world, and Gol-Goroth aids the Investigators with an ulterior motive of shifting that gaze.)

 

 

OCCAM'S ASSUMPTION: Echavarria planned to summon the Liar, and ascend to godlike status over the transformed world he created.

THE TERRIBLE TRUTH: Echavarria planned to summon the Gaze of Azathoth, and ascend to godlike status without concern for the devastation.

 

CORE CLUE: A summoned Deity's attention will follow the Focus. This can be pieced together from the tomes of the cult leaders' libraries. Although this is in the campaign text as written, I mention this here because I think it's OK to impart well before Act III where it's described in the text.

 

CORE CLUE: Echavarria's mythos studies focused on Y'golonac, Gol-Goroth, Nyarlathotep, and Azathoth. Most of this is in the base text, but the most important things to remember are: Anywhere Azathoth is mentioned, so is his servant Nyarlathotep; also Nyarlathotep is mentioned much more than Azathoth, and in greater detail.

 

 

OCCAM'S ASSUMPTION: Trammel, Sir Welles, and (hopefully) the players focus on Nyarlathotep as one of the GOO candidates.

THE TERRIBLE TRUTH: It was Azathoth.

 

Critically, I intend that the players will have all this information imparted to them in some form before the climax at the end of Act II. I think that's what makes it a fair and satisfying twist, and I think it is more true to the GUMSHOE ethos: rather than withholding information, give them so many clues that the challenge comes from trying to piece them all together correctly.

 

THE RISKS

What can go wrong? I foresee two possibilities, both unlikely, both of which I'm prepared to deal with.

 

First, since the role of Job as a focus is established early, the players may try to eliminate him or persuade him to use the Gate before Act III, under the rationale that whoever the Deity is, this will stop its summoning. I see several ways to address this.

 

If they try to persuade Job to use the Gate early, he will refuse. Absent an immediate apocalypse, he simply does not have sufficient motivation to willingly risk eternal suffering.

 

If they try to kill Job, the cultists may try to protect him, erroneously assuming Job's importance as a focus of the Liar's summoning ritual. If the Investigators get past this line of defense, maybe Job has been immortalized by Echavarria and will rise from the dead. Or they may succeed in their murderous ways, but then that Investigator will become the Focus, a fiendish idea that I think was first suggested here by Lisa.

 

Second, given all these clues before Act III, the players could see right through the veil of deception, even in the face of the simpler explanations. Unlikely, but possible.

 

Well, so what? They're trapped.

 

Even if they suspect The Terrible Truth, there's no way to really confirm it unless they test it themselves. Are they willing to risk the fate of the world on the certainty of their belief that all the cults have it completely wrong? If they can somehow morally conclude that leaving The Liar alone is the better option, they risk the possibility that one of the cults will successfully learn the true name of The Liar, complete its own ritual, and bring The Liar fully into this world, which is likely to be apocalyptic anyway.

 

The way I see it, even if they figure out The Twist, they will probably conclude they need to destroy The Liar, which still leads to a very dramatic conclusion. And surely there will be tremendous satisfaction when they prove their clever inductions were correct even in the face of so much misdirection.

 

I have planted other clues that aid and echo these themes, but that's it in a nutshell. My players will probably discover Trammel's Testaments in our next session, which is basically the point of no return, so if you see any gaping holes please speak up!

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rylehNC

I like how this gives cult thugs an excuse to be hanging around Savannah "just in case." Perhaps they are seeking Henslowe's property too?

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ReverendBayes

Exactly.

 

In my game, SS has planted a cultist spy as a custodian at Joy Grove (named Panit), tasked with watching over Henslowe and Job and reporting back any unusual activity or interest. He kept a small shrine to the Liar in a disused part of the sanitarium, allowing me to foreshadow later events. He was going to follow them to Henslowe's estate and maybe try to get the journal himself, but they caught onto his shadowing and turned the tables. 

 

I've also added a new "spell" to the game (The Liar's Whisper) that allows NPCs to communicate with each other through Minor Mouths. This is how Panit reported back to SS, who then reported general details back to Trammel, who then put the PI Jack Pizner on surveillance in L.A. so quickly.

 

Although the spell is a useful plot device, note that everything is channeled through The Liar. Not only is it listening, but it also might change a few details in translation...

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Aviatrix

I made Bethany Mae Hampton a plant at Joy Grove, although from a secret organization whose connection (if any) to the Cults hasn't been discovered by the PCs yet. (And since Lisa hangs out here, I ain't telling yet :-) )

 

My thinking for using Bethany was that the obvious guy to be a cultist would be Dr. Keaton, so instead I broke for Bethany, as it's somewhat surprising to the PCs that she'd have as much power at Joy Grove as she turned out to have. It let me play Dr. Keaton as a somewhat clueless administrator, and also begin to develop one of the main themes of the campaign so far--the invisibility of women in the workplace, and how *someone* is using that in order to infiltrate various locations.*

 

(When I ran Masks, I foregrounded colonialism, identity, and queerness; with Eternal Lies I'm foregrounding corruption, sexism, and I guess the oppression of capital...kinda...)

 

*Including the one PC who carried over from my Masks game; it turns out the secretaries who had infiltrated his private detective agency set up an entire parallel agency that he didn't know about, allowing me to pull in some Philip K. Dick/Thomas Pynchon tropes as well as my Chandler tropes :)

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Zed Lopez

So my players are done with Act II, much the worse for wear. Bangkok was their final location; one was killed in the fight with the anti-investigators when they were captured; of the three remaining, one has a mouth on her hand, one on his forearm, one on his abdomen (he'd been shot through the stomach getting captured; it made sense to me for that wound to become the mouth.)

 

They haven't quite put together their endgame strategy (they're presuming that getting the gunshot victim to sulfa drugs needs to be their priority -- I verified when the player asked that the exit wound was hot to the touch -- but I'm going to tell them it gets better on its own, figuring that just as Ayers needs almost no food and water, a mouth can help its host fight off an infection.)

 

I've been reading and re-reading in preparation for Act III and there's a giant thing I'm not seeing. p.343 in Playing Act III says "The banishment route is accomplished by performing the ritual to dismiss Y'golonac, which is found in the temple at Chichen Xoxul in the Yucatan." The ritual is detailed on p. 368. But I'm not seeing anywhere in the Yucatan chapter it's mentioned. 

 

Anyone know what I'm missing?

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Lisa

If I recall correctly, the text is inconsistent and you've not missed anything.

 

Where they're supposed to get the spell is somewhere different, iirc.

 

Specifically, G-G is going to give them the knowledge of the spell they need. If this has not happened in your game, okay. Did they go to the Yucatan and talk to G-G and part on, ah, not totally hostile terms? It can give them a dream, if so, or send a messenger or something with the ritual.

 

If not...

 

Did they pick up any books from the SS library or the Echevarria-Trammel Library that might have the spell?

Do they have any contacts? The Knight of Malta, perhaps? Might he be able to find the spell even if he's still convinced of the wrong thing?

Is Henslowe alive? Job? They could get the spell.

Heck, the folks with Mouths might learn it from the Liar, but who'd believe them? Still...

 

So, George Ayers isn't in as good shape as he's in because of the mouth in his stomach. Normally, that'd have killed him by now.

BUT, he's learned the rituals of self denial. That's why he can live such an ascetic life. Do any of the PCs know these rituals? Perhaps they intuit how to create the banishing ritual from them.

 

Does any of this help?

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Zed Lopez

yes, thanks!

 

They went to the Yucatan but only one character entered the observatory and when it started shifting, she was steadfastly insistent that she wouldn't look out the window, so there was no audience with Gol-Goroth. If I were doing things over, I wouldn't have the observatory shift until they were all in; surely they wouldn't all resist.

 

They've encountered a bunch of sources of Mythos knowledge at this point... they have a copy of Alvar's journal; they have a selection of books from SS' library including Revelations of Glaaki. In fact they only just figured out who they're really up against because a character remembered Acuna said he'd found the Dalliol site by reading Revelations of Glaaki and that character was reading it on the boat from Bangkok to Calcutta and he finally found and recognized the passage and it clearly indicated who it was.

 

From Calcutta, they telegrammed all their plausibly useful contacts hoping to find out what to do at the belly, including Sir Geoffrey, Monte Donovan (who had abetted them in killing the whole Maltese cult and whom they gave one of Sir Geoffrey's nectar antidotes which restored his son's health), another Knight of Malta in Cairo (from a side-adventure I made up to let them succeed with the Ritual to Dismiss Nyarlathotep and give them a false sense of confidence), and a librarian who's one of the character's sources of stability.

 

The Cairene Knight of Malta will probably be meeting them in Delhi as a replacement character for the player whose character died. So I'll have to choose what he may bring or what the other contacts may have come up with. Dynamite featured in their approaches to Malta and Mexico City so not having the showdown involve dynamite would be nice.

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Lisa

Okay, that will all work. It's all fine.

 

If you run this again, though...

 

So, it doesn't matter whether or not anyone looks out the windows of the observatory. Gol-Goroth can and will move it in time to where anyone inside has an audience with it.

 

It doesn't matter if they don't look out the window. Gol-Goroth communicates mind to mind.

 

I'd love to see your side adventure, or at least whatever notes you made!

As for not using dynamite, do they have the Banish Y. ritual? If so, that's the approach to encourage.

Mind, my group had a long, long debate on which of the three options to use. The mobster favored summoning G-G to fight Y. The pilot, I think, favored dynamite. But, they went with Banish Y, with dynamite present as a back up plan, which is actually both sensible and useful from a Keeper's point of view.

 

The main problem with summoning G-G, to my mind, is that, if you go by the book -- and, even though the authors are very, very clear that we should all feel free to change each and every element to taste, it feels a little like cheating to change this one -- no one has to climb down into the ravine. You just drop the bit of pyramid into it, eat a snake, and chant, if I remember correctly.

 

Heck, you're saving yourself a whole lot of Stability, Athletics, Outdoorsman -- you're only seeing one Outer God, if you're going strictly by the book, though this one doesn't feel so much like cheating to me to change, especially if you're keeping "it can be done without descending into the ravine".

 

For your group, they've got books from SS's library and Knights of Malta helping them. You can totally plant the ritual in one of those sources. It was likely in SS's library and the Knights' hidden books somewhere, but no one knew what to look for.

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Lisa

So, this is a response to Niels on this thread: http://www.yog-sothoth.com/topic/26117-eternal-lies-handouts-spoilers-gms-only/page-22

I'm putting this here as we agreed we were drifting far from actual, y'know, handouts, quoting Niels's post in sections, with my replies interspersed.

 

Niels: I could actually quite get behind the idea of the person killing Job becoming the focus. Especially if it was after extended psychological and personal play between the killer and Job. It would be especially awesome, if the PC (and potentially Job as well!) saw it as a mercy killing to relieve Job of his misery instead of just "let us kille one of the baddies and be done with it".

 

Me: I don't think you need psychological / personal play here. There's something that just feels right with "you kill the focus, you become the focus" -- ties of blood, and all that.

 

I also think that if folks are going to kill Job, it won't be seen as a mercy killing, but as a "we must do this to save the world".

So, if we assume that to be the case, you've got five choices:

 

1. You kill Job, and the world is saved. No one becomes the new focus. Azathoth won't come to Earth when the Liar is banished or destroyed. I find this a bit boring, but it's a valid choice, if not one I'd make.

2. Job's not really killable at any point. I'd be really tempted to go that route if the PCs managed to get him the death penalty.

3. Even if he's dead, he's still the focus. This means you have to decide whether his corpse can be tossed through the gate or whether a PC has to bring it there. And if the PCs have burned the body and scattered the ashes, well... do they come back together? Do the PCs now have to gather every last bit as the world dies around them?

4. If he's dead, the Earth is doomed because there's now no focus to send away and draw Aazathoth's gaze away.

5. If he's dead, he is no longer the focus, but the Earth is not doomed AND Azathoth's gaze is still drawn to the Earth when the Liar is dealt with. This means that the focus-hood HAS to go somewhere. I'm assuming we're working with option #5.

 

Now, I get that you want to work with the text that says "The focus must have these qualities." But, I'm not sure that's practical, and the "you kill it, you become it" has the advantage of being an easy rule. Whoever kills the new focus becomes the new new focus, and so on.

 

Niels: If the former was the case, it would be quite briliant :) As I said, and as you seem to also have latched onto, there is the caveat that the killer is not necessarily the right 'type' of person to be a focus for Azathoth. But I would hope that the killing would happen rather early in the campaign (which I think is more likely anyway).

 

Me: Actually, no. Early on is one possibility. But, in my run, after the early consideration -- which was solely on the grounds that Job was a cultist, and the guy considering killing him asked the other PC to "give me a reason I can understand as a man" not to kill Job. And she did.

It wasn't until late in the campaign that the question was opened again. And it would never have been opened if I hadn't done a lot of work making sure the patients at Joy Grove were in PCs' and players' thoughts.

 

Niels: Then there would be plenty of time to groom that PC into being a 'focus' type of person and they wouldn't have to know that they were the focus until the final twist.

 

Me: How would you arrange that grooming? This sounds fascinating.

 

Niels: There could even be an entry in 'The Gaze of Azathoth' descirbing how the killer of the focus (before the ritual is completed) will become the new focus.

 

Me: Possible. Depends on what one chooses to do with the book (which gets into the whole question of how a keeper is using the clue trail, especially given a lot of alternatives we've seen).

 

Niels: If the PC seems reluctant to be secretly slightly 'rail-roaded' into becoming another type of person than they had planned for, I guess I would consider 'forcing' that PC to pick/accept a new Drive. I would argue that the strain of becoming close to Job and emotionally invested in him, only to believe that his only salvation was a mercy killing would mean that the PC had in fact moved quite a lot from the character type the player imagined during character creation. From playing D&D in my group, there is some precedence for the GM to suggest changes in allignment, if a PC plays in a way that is fundamentally different to the allignment the player 'says' the PC has. And I feel the Drive sort of plays a similar role in ToC. Btw, I also think my players would think it was awesome if they were 'forced' to change Drive as this would signify the consequence of monumental actions, which is always awesome in role playing. Come to think of it, I am now not AS averse to them killing Job ;) But I guess I won't push for it either, hahah

 

Me: I think I disagree on forcing a player to change Drives for this reason. Drive performs a different function than alignment. Drive is there to answer the question "Why will your PC continue to take part in this adventure?"

 

In other words, when a player says to you, "I'm sorry, but I don't know why my PC wouldn't just run away from all of this", the Drive is what lets you say, "That's not my job to answer. It's your job. Look at your PC's Drive and come up with a reason."

Yes, there are hard and soft carrot-and-stick Drive pushes, but it all boils down to this: The function of a Drive is to give the player a reason for her PC to engage, to buy in to the scenario.

 

If my Drive is Duty and I kill Job, and you then say, "Okay, you must change your Drive", my response is "WTF? I killed Job out of Duty. I'm sticking with the investigation past sanity because it's my Duty. Why would you need me to change my Drive?"

 

Niels: Regarding Savitree, no I am not changing that, I just couldn't remember, and my book is still in storage having been overseas for some time, so I couldn't look it up. I haven't played far in the Campaign yet, but I am actually quite looking forward to the Bangkok locale, as I think it is the one that aids me the most in making for some play time that is scary as ****. The hunger games'y part of it will be quite terrifying, I think. I don't really know why, but to me Savitree sort of makes sense. I can't put a finger on it, but I guess she is sort archetypically evil. The brilliant, perfect villain who is in the cult for the raw power it offers her as well as the enlightenment on things that offer even more power. On top of this, I wouldn't say that she is savage but there is something primal about her which goes well with her thematic focus on power. To me she has this 'trial by combat', 'survival of the fittest' kind of thing going for her to the exterme and she is brilliant about it and doesn't doubt herself one second exactly because she is brilliant, intelligent and has vast Mythos knowledge. I think that she - rightly so - believes herself to be a force to be reckoned with. The way I see it, she is evil in the way that a mouse finds a cat evil or a doe finds a wolf evil - both a cat and a wolf enjoy the thrill of the hunt but are only evil in a natural sort of way. Same goes for her.

 

Still. I am intrigued to hear why Bangkok was the weakest and also which were the strongest?

 

Me: Okay, so there are a number of things going on with Bangkok and with my particular run of EL. We had an extra player during the Bangkok sessions, and we had a player miss two sessions, and I got the okay to declare the missing player's PC had been kidnapped and stuck in one of Savitree's pits. And there was some weirdness going on with everyone's Out of Character mindset there, as when the PC vanished, folks just didn't have their PCs worry about him. This was really weird, and I think part of it is that we were all somewhat off our game. So, that part was specific to my group, although some of it is rooted in what Bangkok is.

 

Bangkok is the only locale without a built in ally for the PCs. LA has the gardener and the man from the LAPD. Malta has Sir Godfrey -- everyone loved him in my group. Mexico City has Elena, potentially the police, potentially Gonchi -- I love the Mexico City chapter, although I gather it's more railroady than I realized. I probably got quite lucky in my run. Ethiopia has the guardians. The Yucatan has Rick Luke.

Bangkok? Well, an ally isn't someone you rescue or interview. So, there's no one. Keepers are told "feel free to invent someone trying to get money to the orphans", but there are no stats and no sense of what such an NPC brings to the table. There's no ally, and this is in a very, very challenging locale.

 

And, unlike the other locales, Bangkok has two centers -- the death match with the Mouth, and Savitree's island. This makes an investigation complicated, even with Gumshoe. Heck, my PCs started out knowing Savitree's full name, and even so, it was complicated. Most groups won't be in this position.

 

And then -- okay, so I'm not great at putting PCs into untenable positions, which makes Bangkok even harder for me. The PCs should be extremely vulnerable at the fights, and if thugs come after them to kidnap them, they should be at a serious disadvantage. If you're like me, it's hard to run that, both due to personal squeamishness and due to players who are better at gaming the system and the keeper than I am at gaming the system and the players.

 

And then, there's the body horror. I was really lucky in that I had an absent player so delighted at having his PC kidnapped that he wanted to know if his PC would get a mouth on the back of his neck! I was more squeamish than he, and he made the session where his PC was in the pit, so he got the mouth on his arm.

 

Aviatrix, who is currently running EL, noted that if her PC in my run had been in that position, she would have used the X-Card, which I had on the table for the entire game, to veto that happening to her PC. You really need to know your group for this one. I do not hold with "It's Lovecraft. It's horror. Suck it, bitches!" I'm all for keepers and players working together against the PCs, and not for keepers trying to outmaneuver players. That's not the kind of gaming environment I like.

 

Also, we are told in EL that it's really preferable if at least some PCs who start EL finish it, and I'm totally on board with that. And then... there's Bangkok, which utterly jeopardizes it.

 

So, yeah, that's why I think it's the hardest section.

 

Strongest? Hm. Mexico City and Malta, possibly because I playtested those. Los Angeles, to a point, because it's full of leads. But, I have a certain fondness for Ethiopia, so long as one eases up on "So, you're coming to Ethiopia, looking for Ayers, and there's ONE path to find him, which involves using Interrogation on allies." Yuck. Yes, I know it's not a core clue, but it feels dissatisfying to keep PCs who don't follow The One Path from finding this guy. It's rather like the Shanghai section of Masks, where, in order to find a Really Important NPC, you need to know a) go to a museum (the guy you're looking for isn't a musuem type of guy), B) ask for occult scholars, c) figure out which of the many scholars you need, and d) figure out that you must be honest with this guy (when you might well have been burned by being honest with folks who turned out to be cultists in other locales).

 

As for Savitree, I just find it a bit distasteful that this brilliant woman is reduced to a naked killer living in her own ****. But, this bothers me less than "and she won't say anything about anything if captured, unless caught in a clever logic trap, and the authors have no idea what that might be, but think that this at least opens up some possibility or other, yeah, that's it".

 

Niels: The one thing that nags me about Eternal Lies is that it does not scream scary/creepy/ohmylord at me - it is not like the 'Armitage Files' where you can almost taste the fear, panic and madness in the handouts. It seems less fleshed out and leaves more to the Keepers and players. This can probably be a very good thing - and this forum is proving that it indeed is - but my group and I have talked about this. After our first few sessions, we agreed that it was tense and exciting but not exactly scary or really creepy. Perhaps we are just not deep enough into the cult yet or perhaps we just haven't practiced role playing scary things yet, but there we are. Btw, one of the scariest things I've ever role-played was in a classic one-shot where all of us PCs were asked to guard a paranoid wealthy man in his mansion. There were classic things like windows who would keep being opened with rain and wind howling in. There were rooms where light switches would not work at night, there were guard dogs running amok around the manor grounds. And the worst thing was that some of the PCs had to sleep in an annex outside of the mansion, whilst one PC was on night shift inside the mansion. To cope with this separation, we had walkie talkies, but the Game Master was obviously in control of when the walkie talkies worked. So there were these abysmal moments where the PC inside the mansion was woken up to scrathing sounds (cliché alright) from the room next door and tried contacting the other PCs over walkie talkie, but all he could hear was static noise. So he went to check anyway - his flashlight had run out of battery, and the switch didn't work.. He is searching with only the faint moonlight throug the window of the room as he is told that he spots some movement through the window out on the grounds (this is a childs room btw, and there is this music box  playing, and the PCs already know that the rich man probably murdered his child seven years before. A number that has been repeated by all staff at random points: "Oh, I only started working here what 6, no 7 years ago". "Yes the weather is terrible, but do you not remember that storm more than 6 years ago? That was terrible!!"). So the PC moves frightfully to the window and suddenly the Game Master bangs his hands on the table and says that a person is lunging at the PC - the PC fails a crucial check and is smashed through the window. The next morning, the two PCs in the annex wake up not knowing anything and find the first PCs broken body on the ground. Having to roleplay this kind of thing where you as a player are part of what is going on to someone else's PC but cannot in any way step in is awesome. Playing that PC and knowing that you WILL not get any help is also terrifyingly awesome. I am not saying that Eternal Lies should be like that all the time, but it would be great with a few moments like that now and then to keep people on their toes. If you have any suggestions on that, I would LOVE to hear them.

 

Me: So, there's a lot going on here.

 

EL is player facing because it's less fleshed out. This is both a weakness and a strength, as we've discussed.

Armitage Files was a joy to read, but I've no idea how it runs. For me, Eternal Lies shines because the horror is in the human elements, in why people become cultists, in what they want and how it twists them. Eternal Lies has very few mythos beings apart from the Liar and Gol-Goroth. Azathoth is more a force of nature than anything else. No byakhee, ghouls, deep ones...

 

Heck, if you take it strictly as written, there's very little magic. You may want to expand that a bit, but perhaps not. It's not about learning how to cast spells or avoiding getting your limbs withered. It's about saving humanity from its worst elements, from its own vices -- vices that can strike anyone, including the PCs' loved ones.

 

Make the sources of stability real. Make them matter. Make the PCs deal with them. Make it so you think of them as "Cissy" or "Douglas" or "Richard" or "Amelia", not as "Vito's Source of Stability". Then, twist them into the plot.

 

You won't necessarily do this with all the sources. That's okay. But make them matter. Even the ones who are good, normal people, never under threat. Contrast that to the horrors of fighting mouths dripping with Nectar.

 

The mouths are horrific, especially the ones growing on people. But even on the walls, that's just creepy. The giant ones are terrifying. And the idea that they speak to the PCs -- use that one. The Malta Mouth spoke to Donovan in Dononvan's own voice. The Mouths give those who worship them what they want -- and then it twists and destroys the worshippers, and the Mouths have no control over that. It's not in the Mouths' best interest.

 

Nectar addiction is terrifying. This is a drug one doesn't develop a resistance to. But, here, you need to have a very careful balancce. Nectar addiction can make a PC unplayable. Aviatrix is handling this one way in her run. In mine, Martin's player and I managed to be on the same page, so while I can't put my guidelines in mechanical terms, we both knew roughly when and how often it would come up, when Martin wouldn't even bother to resist, and, because of what else I was introducing, when it would cease to be a factor (when Martin made a really awe-ful bargain with a different Outer God).

 

The wheels within wheels is a bit terrifying as well. Echevarria is dead. He's not coming back. But, he's set the entire world on the path to destruction.

 

Mind, one thing working against horror: Unlike Masks and some other games, EL has no built in deadline, no timeline where, if the PCs drop the ball, things will reach a climax without their actions. This is both a pro and a con.

 

Niels: Anyway, I feel we might be digressing a bit from the topic of this thread, so perhaps we should continue it in the 'advice for GMs in eternal lies' thread? (if that is the name)

 

Me: Okay, I have now moved discussion here!

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Zed Lopez

We played through Tibet tonight.

 

I feel like I should get my players "I banished the Liar from Beyond and all I got was this lousy apocalypse" t-shirts.

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Lisa

I'd consider buying one if it had the lovely green roiling lightning...

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Hypnotoad

A question, cause I'm about to start the campaign and have a problem.

 

If you make an Investigator the daughter of Stack or Kullman...one of the 24 investigators...

 

How can you manage the fact that they don't go straight to Los Angeles?

She must know (see Police Report in LA chapter) her father died and where. They found the ID on the body.

 

And if Janet doesn't know of their fathers friendship...either do the Investigator? So why she would be called?

Only because she's a good Professor? Who later accidentally turns out friend of Janet's father? Little world, doesn't it?

 

How can you manage an Investigator who know her father died and that he was a friend of Walter Winston?

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ReverendBayes

One of my investigators is the husband of Katherine Clark. To account for this, I changed some of the events significantly.

 

In my game, the 1924 Investigators swore a pact that if they failed, any survivors would do whatever possible to hide their involvement and keep the cult from coming after them or their families. So in the early morning hours after the attack, Winston returned to the farm and took the bodies of Kullman, Clark, and Stack away in the trunk of a car, along their remaining belongings. He drove them out to a deserted road and buried the bodies, burned the car, and did his best to erase their tracks. Henslowe had disappeared, and after waiting for some time at their rendezvous Winston gave up and returned home.

 

As a result, Clark, Stack, and Kullman all disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1924, whereabouts unknown. This secret tormented Winston to his grave, and to sooth his guilt he included Clark's widower (a PC) and child in his will. Winston included no explanation, just a brief note declaring his admiration for Katherine. Janet invited the PC to the first meeting to execute this part of the will and query the PC about this mysterious note (he had no idea). This provides a natural drive for that PC to help Janet.

 

I contemplated leaving Clark's death a mystery, or even adding a Mythos twist and having her still be alive but horribly changed by the bite of The Liar. But instead I've chosen to stay conventional, and have added additional clues in LA that eventually lead to the bodies. Finding the body will give the PC a sense of grim closure, and also hopefully provide powerful motivation to pursue the cult and avenge his wife's death.    

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Lisa

That works. Another easy way is to say that the PC who's the child of a 1924 investigator was young enough that no one told him or her any of the details. This has always been a mystery.

 

When Janet comes to the group, the reason to start in Savannah rather than in LA isn't just lack of information, though. The letters she has point to a living witness, and it makes sense to start there. Heck, perhaps the PCs vaguely recall the other 1924 investigators, including Henslowe.

 

Somewhere in this thread or the handouts thread is a post about making all of the PCs descendents of the 1924 investigators, and how that changes things.

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